Cameron Edney of Inside Out webzine recently conducted an interview with guitarist Mårten Hagström of Swedish experimental extreme metallers MESHUGGAH. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Inside Out: "Alive" is certainly something that the fans have been screaming for now for years! Was there any reason it has taken so long for you guys to put together a live DVD?
Mårten Hagström: Yeah, for a number of reasons, actually. We did discuss it through the years. Every once in a while, the idea pops up or someone from the Nuclear Blast office asks if we are considering doing a live DVD anytime soon. We had been focusing on other stuff. We thought we could've done it quick and got it out there but we really wanted to wait until we felt that we had the proper focus, not only us but the guy that we knew we wanted to work with for it. After we released the "ObZen" album, Ian McFarland [writer/producer] who did the "Bleed" video had a sitdown meeting with us in Boston. We discussed how we felt about the video and the fact that we didn't really have anything to do with it. Ian said, "Guys, I'd really like to do a documentary film or a live DVD with you. I think I could make it look really cool." We started discussing it, a couple of months later we were heading back to the United States for a headlining tour with MINISTRY and we felt it was the perfect time. Ian had the time to do it, he had everything set up, we could pick a couple of shows that we felt would be a good representative of what we're doing on the road and we knew what we wanted out of it! It was just good timing, and like you were saying, a lot of people have been complaining about us not doing a DVD for some time now.
Inside Out: Mårten, more and more artists tell me how they don't like doing live recordings cause they don't feel they can capture the energy of the band live… Do you feel that same way or do you think that "Alive" sums up the live MESHUGGAH experience?
Mårten Hagström: I don't know… it's still too early to tell. Being onstage in that chaotic environment, how to directly transfer what that feels like in a live situation over to a DVD is pretty much impossible. For us, it wasn't only about capturing the most bad-ass live set we could produce, but we wanted to represent what it was like on the road. That's why we included four shows rather than one consecutive live show. We wanted it to feel authentic. It was a challenge, but you have to go off the word of the people that know what you look like from on the stage, and it feels like we came really close. We have no reason to complain; we're really happy with it!
Inside Out: It's certainly awesome to see that you guys have the new "Alive" DVD and CD out now, but the fans are dying to know… Have you been working on any new material.....
Mårten Hagström: Not much, what we've done is more of a practical nature. We have a studio here in Stockholm and we've been rebuilding it somewhat. We did a major renovation last year; we actually ripped out everything in the basement and just built a whole new studio. It turned out really good but we weren't really 100% satisfied with the acoustics so we bought someone in from the outside to help us set it up exactly how we wanted it. As far as writing, we have got some stuff, I wouldn't call it leftovers, but more stuff that we didn't have the time to get finished before the "ObZen" album, so we're going to see what we can do with it, see if it still feels fresh. We're going to approach the writing process a little bit differently this time… we're going to jam a little bit more as a band, not to the full extent but we're gonna play around within the earlier stages of the process rather than handing demos to each other and working of the ones we think are best, but that's all we know for now.
Inside Out: When you decide collectively as a band to approach an album differently to your previous work, it must make the whole process feel new and much more exciting especially after doing so many albums. Is that one of the reasons for doing the next album this way… to keep it fresh and exciting?
Mårten Hagström: That's true… Maybe. You have to change things around and put yourself in a new setting and put yourself into a new creative environment to see where you can take the band from what it is today and see what you can do with it. Of course, it differs where you are in life and where you are in your career on what you do with your music. I would say that mostly these changes come about because of the simple fact that, hopefully, we're realizing more and more with every album what we want to do, what's lacking from a perspective where we can do our best, we want to put ourselves into a situation where we can do our best, with that challenge comes the creative spark as well!
Inside Out: You have shared the stage with so many great bands over the years. Who has given you the best advice whilst on the road and what was it?
Mårten Hagström: We've been given a lot of advice by a lot of people that we respect tremendously. I would have to say TOOL, if it comes to terms of advice. TOOL was a band that we got a long great with. They handpicked us to go out on the two runs we did with them in the United States for their "Lateralus" album. Adam gave me advice on how to not get too stuck in the role of being in the band, try and get a perspective of what is happening with the band from an outside point of view, be really aware of everything. It was really good stuff to think about. Going on tour in the U.S. with TOOL meant a big arena tour and with a lot of bands you know you can really get kicked around but they were just the opposite. TOOL took us in and we became great friends; we were hanging out a lot. We're still in touch with them and they still come out to our shows when we're in L.A.
Read the entire interview from the Inside Out webzine.